During spring break, many students—along with some faculty members, coaches, alumni, and Cabrini staff—traveled out of Pennsylvania, some to as far as Guatemala, to put Cabrini’s mission into action. Whether it was a week of learning and team building or helping to build a house for family in need, it was an opportunity for the Cabrini community to make an impact. The various trips were organized and offered through campus groups such as Athletics, Campus Ministry, or as part of a spring semester class. Students and their leaders participated in unique, hands-on experiences that some even considered life-changing.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Each year, Campus Ministry offers two trips over Spring Break, one being a service-immersion opportunity where students work with the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans, Louisiana, to help rehabilitate homes damaged in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Nine students, Carl F. Janicki, Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry, and Jill Nawoyski (’17), who now works in the Admissions Office at Cabrini, spent the week living and working in the local community while also having the opportunity to explore the culture of New Orleans in their free time.
“Going to New Orleans was an experience that I will truly never forget,” Nawoyski said. “Sometimes I find myself getting worked up over a bad day, when in reality, things could always be so much worse. I met individuals who lost everything they had and had to wait YEARS to even get a new home.”
The group also got to spend a day at Cabrini High School meeting the principal and talking with the teachers and students.
“I could feel Mother Cabrini’s presence in every single room that we went into and the teachers, students, and principal are some of the nicest, most welcoming individuals that I have ever met,” Nawoyski said. “Working in Admissions, I get to speak with prospective students each day, but there was something just so special about speaking to students who already know Mother Cabrini’s story and are interested in continuing her legacy at Cabrini University.”
San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala
Students in the ECG 300 course, Working for Justice in Guatemala, led by Jerome “Jerry” Zurek, PhD, spent the first half of the spring semester preparing for their immersion trip to San Lucas Toliman on the beautiful shores of Lake Atitlan. For more than 10 years, the class has traveled to Guatemala to help build schools, homes, and roads, and to learn from the resilient people who live there.
Brittany Smith (’18) first traveled to Guatemala her senior year at Cabrini and found the experience to be completely life-changing.
“This trip has made such an incredible impact on my life and the way that I view the world and everything in general,” Smith said. “This trip allows you to open your heart, self-reflect, adapt to a new, unique environment, and learn about the different way that life is lived in different places in the world.”
When the opportunity arose for her to attend the trip again this year as an alumna, she didn’t hesitate.
“I chose to go for a second time to experience this incredible immersion as an alum with a group of students experiencing it for the first time,” Smith said. “Seeing the immersion trip impact the students throughout the week and upon arrival home was so special.”
Smith is working on planning a trip back to San Lucas for alumni of the ECG 300 class who want to go back to see the long-term impact their service to the community has made.
For the third year in a row, sophomore and junior Education majors had the opportunity to spend the week in Naples, Florida. The one-week immersion trip counts toward an entire semester of field experience for Education majors.
Kelly Bergey (‘10), the principal at Golden Gate Elementary, established the partnership with the Teacher Education Department at Cabrini in 2015. This hands-on experience gives pre-service teachers the opportunity to obtain field experience in a diverse area, receive mentoring from experienced teachers using Marzano’s Art and Science of Teaching Framework, experience working with a high English Language Learners (ELL) student population, and more.
The students also spent one day visiting a women’s domestic violence shelter thanks to the Barbara and John Jordan Center.
“The most memorable part of the trip for me was visiting the women’s domestic violence shelter,” said Bethany Wilson (’20), who, after writing an essay about the effect of domestic violence, was awarded the Barbara and John Jordan Scholarship to help fund her experience in Naples. “The shelter was 30,000 square feet and it included everything one could imagine; a kennel for the survivor’s pets, a beauty salon, 60 beds, a beautiful garden, and more. I loved listening to Barbara Jordan speak about their mission for domestic violence awareness and everything that has been done to help women, men, and their children.
This year marks the first time the women’s rowing team got to spend their spring break out of the state. They spent the seven-day break in Florida, training out on the water every day of the week.
“The trip was such a great opportunity to get to know my teammates a little better and get ready for the spring season,” said Angelie Traviza-Traverzo (’19). “It was great to get to train on the water every day for a week, since in PA, it was not good rowing weather. If it is too cold out, it would not be an effective row.”
The team took a break from their tough training week by heading to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, Orlando, for a day.
“We had amazing time at the park,” said Traviza-Traverzo. “It was a great opportunity for us to make memories with one another, especially for the seniors, because it is our last year with the team. I hope it continues to be a part of the spring break trip for rowers to come!”
One of Cabrini’s newest Division III teams, men’s baseball, also headed to the sunshine state to train, bond, and play. Eight games took place over the course of the seven-day spring break and the Diamond Cavs came home with five wins!
“The trip provides our program the opportunity to play a significant portion of our regular season schedule in favorable weather,” said Head Coach Nick Weisheipl. “Traveling and living together as a big group for a week certainly provides us all with a chance to grow closer as teammates and coaches so we can operate as a cohesive unit more significantly moving forward.”
Some of the players parents went to Florida to cheer the team on at their games, but it was also a great opportunity for parents to meet one another and bond, strengthening the Cabrini community.
“The parents who traveled to Florida with us also get a chance to connect, which further promotes the best aspects of Cabrini and our baseball program,” Weisheipl said.